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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 19, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes today as part of a ten-year plan to cut the deficit. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we look at the substance and the politics that undergirds the $3 trillion reduction plan. >> ifill: then, we talk to world bank president robert zoellick about the financial turmoil in europe that threatens to engulf the u.s. and developing countries around the world. >> woodruff: plus, ray suarez
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looks at the deadly government crackdown on protesters in yemen. >> ifill: science correspondent miles o'brien reports on the return of a once-endangered species, now caught in the cross-hairs of cattle ranchers. >> six teen after gray wolves were reintroduceded to yellowstone park, they'll be hunting them this fall in idaho and montana. ranchers say it's high time. environmentalists say it's a full-scale assault on the endangered species act. >> woodruff: and hari sreenivasan explores the impact of big money in college athletics with historian taylor branch. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies have changed my country. >> oil companies can make a difference. >> we have the chance to build the economy. >> create jobs, keep people healthy, and improve schools. >> ...and our communities. >> in angola chevron helps train engineers, teachers and farmers, launch child's programs.
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it's not just good business. >> i'm hopeful about my country's future. >> it's my country's future. >> and by bnsf railway. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the president sought today to get his ideas for reducing red ink off the ground. republicans insisted his talk of raising taxes will never fly.
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president obama unveiled his $3.6 trillion plan to tackle the deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending in the white house rose garden this morning. >> we can't just cut our way out of this hole. it's going to take a balanced approach. >> ifill: the president's call for balance has run into head winds before. he acknowledges the criticism that would greet his latest proposal. >> we're already usually hearing the defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just class warfare. i reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare. i think it's just the right thing to do. this is not class warfare. it's math. the money is going to have to come from some place. >> ifill: the white house math includes $1.5 trillion in new
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revenue raised by allowing $800 billion in tax breaks to expire for family earning more than $250,000 a year. it would also limit tax deductions for the wealthy and eliminate tax loopholes for big business. republicans have objected to this approach saying it would hurt the people who create jobs. on the spending side, the president's plan would cut $580 billion in costs from mandatory benefit programs including $248 billion from medicare and $66 billion from medicaid. mr. obama pledged to reject any republican efforts to cut spending without raising new revenues. >> i will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary americans. and i will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on medicare but not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest americans or biggest corporations to pay
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their fair share. >> ifill: house speaker john boehner ruled out increasing taxes just last week. >> so the speaker says we can't have it my way or the highway and then basically says my way. or the highway. that's not smart. it's not right. if we're going to meet our responsibilities, we have to do it together. >> ifill: both senate minority leader mitch mcconnell and mr. boehner dismissed the president's latest plan today as not serious. thised administration's insistence on raising taxes on job creators and its reluctance to take the steps necessary to strengthen our entitlement programs are the reasons the president and i were not able to reach an agreement previously. the speaker said in a statement. and it is evident today that these barriers remain. over the weekend, the president also floated another idea: reforming the tax code
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so that millionaires pay the same tax rate as their middle class employees. the idea of taxing the rich appears to have its supporters. 56% of those polled by cbs news and the new york times last week said they favor raising taxes on high-wage earners to reduce the deficit. public opinion is no guarantee of political agreement. a special deficit reduction committee began meeting last week to come up with its own plan to find up to $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions. if they can't come to an agreement by november 23, most government agencies, including the pentagon, would see across- the-board budget cuts. we take a closer look now at the economics and the politics we take a closer look at the economics and the politics of the president's plan with phillip swagel. he was assistant secretary for economic policy at the treasury department under george w. bush. he's now a visiting fellow at the american enterprise institute and a professor of economics at the university of maryland. and robert greenstein, executive director of the center on budget
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and policy priorities, which advocates on behalf of lower- income households. greenstein, overall, what did you think of the president's plan? >> i was impressed. this is a plan that provides measures to create jobs in the short term but then focuses in on substantial deficit reduction as the economy recovers. it achieves the goal that every bipartisan commission over the last two years has said is the key, to get the deficit down to the point where the debt is no longer growing faster than the economy. it does it in a balanced way. and it's not some big liberal high tax plan. one fact shows that. it has somewhere between half a trillion and three quarters of a trillion less in revenue increases than the bipartisan bowls simpson commission plan and the gang of six plan, both of which had republican senators endorsing them. >> ifill: what do you think about it? >> i think the president's plan is in two parts. last week he talked about what he wanted to do to get the
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economy going. there were elements in there that i likeded. >> ifill: the job speech. >> the job speech. the focus on training. today was politics. it's not really economics. i think everyone understood what the president was doing today. you could see from his demeanor on the piece before, it was politics. he's kicking off his re-election campaign. it kind of puts a bit of a pall over his very useful speech i thought from last week. >> ifill: class warfare? >> it's not a surprise that the president is going back to that and saying let's tax millionaires and all that. there's a lot of tax increases. look, we have to change our tax code. i agree with the president there. but he wants it to support higher spending. that's probably the wrong approach. >> ifill: let's talk about the tax increases. >> i very much disagree.... >> ifill: by all means. >> he's talking about the president's speech. let's move away from the speech. and let's look at something like 60-page long detail plan that has spending cut after spending cut. it takes on sacred cows for the democrats. it has changes in medicare
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that no democratic president.... >> ifill: i don't want to do that. i want to go through it piece by piece. let's start by talking about the tax increases that the republicans are so resistance to. the republicans are saying they're not necessary nor plausible. >> what the president proposed today is that we have a comprehensive tax reform that broadens the base and lowers the rate but produces net savings, net increase in revenue relative to what you would get if you made all the bush tax cuts permanent of $1.5 trillion over ten years. it's actually less than the bipartisan bowls simpson plan proposed. yes, he has specific proposals to close loopholes on hedge fund managers who pay less than their secretaries in rates and oil and gas loopholes and so forth. but he made very clear those were illustrative. he would work with congress. what he wanted was a comprehensive reform. lower the rates, broaden the base. do it in a way that both gives us more efficient code and
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brings in a lot more revenue. of course significant share is going to have to come from people at the top for two basic reasons. a, they are right now-- people that make over a million dollars a year-- are right now getting an average tax cut of over $100,000 a year from the bush tax cuts. we can't afford that. b, a lot of the unproductive loopholes in the code are concentrated in higher-income areas, big corporations, areas where people had high-priced lobbyists. but there are also a lot of expenditure cuts that members of both parties, including republicans who say they want to cut spending, i fear are going to not be willing to accept because those also hit special interests on the spending side. >> ifill: he took a big bite of the spending increases. i mean the tax increases. as well the spending cuts. why don't you do the same thing. >> sure thing. i mean, some of the spending cuts in this proposal i think everyone understands are
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necessary. he's looking to reform the treatment of federal pensions and looking to save the postal service, things like that. there will be some agreement. the so-called sacred cows, i think everyone understands that medicare is very serious challenges. the president last week put the word "modest" in front of medicare changes. medicare doesn't need modest changes. the president is underselling this. he's telling the american people we can do modest changes and we'll be fine. i think unfortunately that's not the case. >> ifill: is that the leaping- off point to work with congress. >> he called a sacred cow. since the president put this out in his so-called detailed proposal are very small changes to medicare. there's nothing that will really change the arc of medicare spending which is the kind of thing you have in, say, paul ryan's plan. that to me is what the most disappointing is. >> ifill: what about tax increases. how do you pay for this kind of deficit reduction without increasing taxes on somebody? >> sure.
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in the president's discussions with speaker boehner, the news report said there's about a four-to-one mix of spending reductions against revenue increases. the revenue increases were things that both sides agreed on. changing deductions in a way that lowered rates but broadened the base. i agree with bob. so you had that ratio. you had agreement. the president changed the terms of the discussion and the discussions fell apart. this four-to-one, this is in a sense the spending cuts here a lot of it relies on war spending that everyone understood would never be spent. the ratio supposedly is one-to- one but as people look at the ratio of spending to revenue it's not nearly one to one. >> ifill: the president said if he can't get what he calls this balance, he will veto anything that comes to his desk. he said also in the same talk that speaker boehner was guilty of a "my way or the highway" approach. isn't a veto threat also "my way or the highway"? >> no. >> ifill: why not?
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>> because what the president is is basically saying is i'll put my sacred cows on the table. $250 billion in medicare cuts including some changes in deductibles and co-pays and medi-gap coverage is indeed a sacred cow. it's about as much as we know how to do now in medicare without causing big problems. the health reform act will enable us to learn more in the future. and take further steps in the future. he is saying i'm put my sacred cows on the table but you have to put yours as well. i will hit in terms of some of these changes in medicare and other programs, i'll effect ordinary americans who don't have big budgets but in order to do that, we have to have some balance. big corporations, the people at the top of the income scale have to contribute something too. speaker boehner is saying, no revenue whatsoever, period. that's my way or the highway. that's not what obama is saying. >> ifill: did you hear that kind of conciliatory language
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coming from the president today? >> you know, i did a week ago. a week ago i thought there was a lot of common ground. today it seems like a different tone, a different message. i give the president some credit. he finally put on the table what he really wants. his vision. they called it a vision. i do think it's a vision. there will be a contrast about the size of government and the size of taxes and what kind of society we want. >> ifill: is the challenge as we have this debate about taxes and about spending cuts and definite reduction, is the challenge that we're facing now more about politics or about policy? >> well, it's both. i mean in part i think some republican leaders don't want the president to accomplish anything before the election but fundamentally it's about policy and it's about ideology. it's also about campaign contributions and all of that stuff. you'll also unfortunately see some members both parties resist the president's proposal to do things like reduce some of the give-aways to big drug companies. in the 2003 drug bill that
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cost tax payers over $100 billion over ten years or to reign in some of the excessive farm subsidies to agricultural corporations. those are on the spending side. people like martin feldstein who was president reagan's chief economist have said that some of the most wasteful and unproductive spending anywhere in the budget is actually in the tax code. those are a number of things that obama is talking about. i'd also note that when you do the math and you include as one should the spending cuts that were just enacted last month in all of the non-entitlement programs, when you take the numbers, you remove the war spending-- i agree with phil there-- and you use the same budget baseline, the same measuring rod that both simpson and the gang of six today, you'll actually find the obama package is more than $2 in spending cuts for every dollar in revenue. >> ifill: does your math equal that? >> bob and i need to open up a
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spreadsheet after the show and do the math. there's going to be a mix of politics and policy. you know, for me it's fine actually for the president to put out his vision and give the kind of angry speech. that's fine. everyone should just understand last week was policy. this week is politics. hopefully those two can merge and both sides have to say, you know, we're going to move from where we are just saying no. but the president is playing the same game he's decrying. that's politics. >> ifill: bill swagel of the nuns of mer land and bob green stein, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, the world bank and the euro crisis; a resurgence of violence in yemen; wolves versus ranchers in yellowstone; and the big money in college sports. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: wall street struggled today with worries about the greek debt crisis. stocks cut their losses late in
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the day, but the market still snapped a five-day winning streak. the dow jones industrial average lost 108 points to close at 11,401. the nasdaq fell more than nine points to close at 2612. away from the trading floor, some 200 protesters marched for a third day, charging the financial system favors corporations. at least six people were arrested. rebels in libya tried to regroup today to renew fighting on two fronts. in sirte, moammar gadhafi's hometown, smoke could be seen as the two sides traded fire. and in bani walid, rebels tried to fight their way back into the city after gadhafi loyalists forced them to pull back on sunday. meanwhile, efforts to form a new cabinet in the transitional government stalled. some cities complained they were underrepresented. nato officials in afghanistan have confirmed the deaths of two troops, in addition to three killed over the weekend in separate attacks. so far in september, 26 international troops have been killed.
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meanwhile, president hamid karzai left afghanistan today for the u.n. general assembly session in new york. he's set to discuss war developments and seek more help in peace efforts. in japan, thousands of protesters marched in tokyo today, insisting the government abandon nuclear power. police estimated the crowd at 20,000. organizers said there were three times that many. the marchers carried banners, beat drums, and chanted, "sayonara, nuclear power." the protest came six months after the tsunami disaster caused the fukushima dai-ichi nuclear plant to spew radiation. rescue crews fanned out in northeastern india after a powerful earthquake that killed at least 53 people. the sunday night quake had a magnitude of 6.9. it shook remote parts of india, nepal, and tibet, with the worst damage in india. more than 100,000 homes were damaged across the rugged himalayan region. many towns in the zone lost electricity. former illinois senator charles
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percy died over the weekend in washington. he had alzheimer's disease. percy was a moderate republican who served three terms, starting in 1966. he chaired the foreign relations committee and considered a run for president in the 1970s. but increasingly, he clashed with party conservatives, and he lost his reelection bid in 1984. at his death, charles percy was 91 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: anxiety over the european debt crisis sent new tremors around the globe today, as you just heard, shaking up financial markets again. the most immediate worry: greece. its creditors are threatening to withhold the latest installment of a $150 billion rescue package. lenders are worried the government will not follow through on politically unpopular cuts. that prompted new fears today the country may default on its debt in a matter of weeks, triggering big problems across the continent and elsewhere.
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those developments served as backdrop to our interview with robert zoellick, the president of the world bank. the bank provides loans and assistance to developing countries. along with the i.m.f., it is a critical player in global economics and politics. we met at the world bank's headquarters here in washington. robert zoellick, president of the world bank, thank you for talking with us. >> pleased to be with you. >> woodruff: as we sit here today, a lot of worry out there about greece. you have said yourself in the last few days you think the world economy is entering a danger zone. do you worry more about the european debt crisis or about slow growth here in the united states? >> i don't think it's an either/or. we're in a world economy. both of them matter. but i think the euro zone right now presents a more imminent issue. that's what we're seeing in the markets. >> woodruff: given what's happened with the euro zone, is it better if this has to be the choice for the greeks to default if that is the only
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choice rather than to continue to muddle along, which is what has been happening? >> yeah. well, so far what the aur means have done whether it's greece or some of the other countries is to provide various types of liquidity support. they're making sure that money is available for banks or for the country's bonds. that's important but it buys time. it only buys time. there's more fundamental decisions whether it's greece or any others so the point that i've been making is that europe really is approaching a key decision point here just like it did in 1989 or '90. and it needs to think of three issues in an inter-connected fashion. one is the sovereign debt. for some countries like greece in a very, very heavy load. b, the banks because if the debt doesn't have its full value, that undermines the bank's capital. and then that shows problems with people pulling money. third for some countries is the competitive position. it comes down to a question of
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whether that monetary union that was created some 20 years ago will have a complementary fiscal union which can be done in different ways or whether europeans manage the consequences for highly indebted uncompetitive countries. but it's also affecting all of us just as we saw in the summer where the combination of events in europe and the united states started to have a contagion effect in markets globally. >> woodruff: you speak about the euro zone, the monetary union. there are those who argue that it would be better to have each country standing on its own dealing with the consequences on its own rather than trying to hang together and have the sort of difficulties we're seeing right now in europe. >> these are decisions that only europeans can make. so if you're sitting in germany or some of the other country countries you're saying look i'm tired of bailing out our parkers but then those countries have to decide do they want to preserve a euro zone. do they want in the case of an absence of euro you've seen the deutsche mark appreciated in value. it's more than just that aspect of trade. it's a question of what sort
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of future for europe do they want and how should it be structured? if one does move towards the fiscal union i'm not suggesting a bailout, you'd have to change and there's different ways to approach this the types of fiscal discipline whether used through markets or through institutions. >> woodruff: what do you think? >> i really believe it's a european question because it's so fundamentally political. it's not... this is not a technical expert question. experts can offer various alternatives but to make this work just as the united states had to make its decision in 1787, that was a political decision about the future. so these are the questions that they have to face because they're going to pay for it one way or the other. it's going to affect their future as a union. >> woodruff: you've also mentioned you're worried about the weak growth here in the united states. solutions... is the solution the kind of austerity that some are saying must happen? cut government spending massively or should it be some combination of cutting government spending and
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strategic investment in things like infrastructure. >> the u.s. also has to pay attention to fundamental. it's not quite as imminent as the european situation but over the course of the next year or two and maybe after the 2012 elections given american politics, people are going to have to face up not just to the question of what we call the discretionary spending, the annual budget spending but really the growth of entitlements. here it doesn't really have to be cuts. it's slowing the rate of growth. and that's a decision that neither the congress nor the executive have really joined yet. but also there are... there's a need for pro growth strategies. i was at the treasury in the '80s when there was the last major tax reform. there's starting to be a movement for the idea of trying to broaden the base, lower the tax rates. that would be a strategy that would boost growth. and frankly open trade is something that we haven't been pursuing. that's another important structure reform. my message, whether it be to europeans or the u.s. or frankly with the developing
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countries we work with is don't forget the structural aspects of growth. the fundamentals of growth going forward. i'm not by any means a believer that the u.s. or others are caught in some stagnation. there's certainly all the possibilities of moving ahead but people are going to face some tougher decisions. >> woodruff: do you think people are acting like things are worse than they really are here in the u.s.? >> i think they're serious. but the difference is i think in terms of market response, europe is right now on the firing line. i think in the united states if the united states doesn't act on these issues, i see it already globally how it's sort of weakened the united states' position. but in terms of financial markets, the united states can muddle through for a while longer. >> woodruff: why does all this matter for the developing world which is your principal focus here, the world bank? >> well, you know, in this downturn the developing world has actually been the one source of light. about a half of global growth now comes from emerging markets. that really relates to your prior question too.
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what we've seen over the past ten years much faster than one would have expected is the rise of emerging markets as players in the system. starting in august, we started to see some of the ripple, the contagion effects. the bond spreads for emerging markets spreads on average rose about 70 basis points. that's about three quarters of a percent. >> woodruff: costs more money. >> costs more money for their sovereign debt. their equity markets also took serious hits just like they did in some of the developed countries. their ex-rt exports to developed countries have already been down because of the crisis. the issue we're watching closely because this could be the game-changer is that if the confidence effects also undermine their investment or their consumer confidence, then the one source of global growth that's kept us going would start to slow. >> woodruff: and that, you're saying, would have... in turn a big effect on the developed world, on europe. >> yes. if you look at the source of u.s. growth it's primarily been some of the exports.
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so we're all in this together. that's part of the point. whether you're developing or developed or europe or the united states. and the need is not only for actions but some cooperative actions that reinforce one another. >> woodruff: you are putting at this meeting of the world bank a lot of emphasis on providing more equality for women. gender equity. i think you're using the theme "think equal." there's been efforts over the years in the international community by non-governmental organizations and others to increase opportunity for women. why is this one different? >> well, this is being driven by an annual report that we do. it's a world development report. it's certainly a major contribution in the field where we don't just try to advocate or talk about a subject but provide some solid analysis. while, you know, i believe the gender equality is not only the right thing to do, what this makes very clear is it's smart economics. what we can show with studies from african countries, developed countries, is what a
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difference it makes to give women the same property rights, a chance to move into business lines, credit, inputs for agriculture and how it improves productivity. so at the exact moment that we're looking for sources of global growth, how can any country really succeed with growth if it doesn't draw on the full capacities of 60% of its population? >> woodruff: well, it's certainly a full plate that you have. robert zoellick, president of the world bank, we thank you for talking with us about it. >> glad to be with you. >> ifill: >> ifill: new political turmoil and violence in the arabian peninsula nation of yemen. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: at least 50 people have been killed since sunday when government forces in the yemeni capital fired on huge crowds demanding the ouster of president saleh. after more killing today,
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thousands of protestors and army defectors overran a key military base. gun fire also echoed in the southern city of tais as security forces held back protestors and armed vehicles sprayed crowds with water canon and tear gas. at least one person was killed there. the renewed bloodshed brought new warnings from the international community, including british foreign secretary william hague. >> this situation of course has been simmering for a long time. this outbreak of intensified violence is very concerning. we call on all sides to desist from that violence and to come to an agreement for a political transition in yemen. >> suarez: the protests and violence flared on friday after saleh called for yet more talks on a deal for him to step down after 33 years in power. saleh has balked at signing the deal three times already,
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but the u.s. state department had said thursday that an agreement was nearly complete. it would give him immunity from prosecution for the deaths of hundreds of protestors since january. the yemeni president has been living in saudi arabia since the june attack on his compound left him seriously wounded. the u.s. once saw saleh as an ally in the fight against al qaeda's increasingly active branch in yemen. washington withdrew its support as the protests continued. and for more on the turmoil in yemen, we turn to christopher boucek of the carnegie endowment for international peace. these two sides have been in conflict all year. why this sudden upsurge in violence? why now? >> i think the key question, this has gone on for almost nine months. it only escalated into serious violence in the past weekend. there have been periodic outbreaks until now. it wasn't until this weekend when protestors left the area under the protection of the general, the defected
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commander of the first armored division, that triggered this most recent round of fighting. >> suarez: they strayed out of an area where it was understood they could normally have their say. >> yeah. >> suarez: and there's also been a counteroffensive. they've fought back against the forces that have been firing on them to some effect. >> i think we should be clear to the difference between the opposition, fighting back, or the defected military fighting back against the regime security agencies which is what we really have going on. the protestors are the ones who are getting killed. they're not doing as much of the fighting. >> for all this country's known troubles, has this kind of aattack, this level of death been a feature of this conflict over the last nine months. >> we saw an incident where 52 protestors were killed. the end of may there was a period of pretty intense fighting. since the end of may when president saleh survived the assassination attempt and went
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to saudi arabia it was been peaceful. periodic things but nothing of this magnitude. once it starts in yemen, how do you deescalate? how do you put it back? one of the awful things about this situation is none of the security services or none of the military agencies that are fighting are geared toward deescalating conflict. >> suarez: if the army opens fire on unarmed civilians, can you assume that that's been cleared at the top? >> i think it would be in an ideal situation you would like to think that. the president is out of the country. he's hundreds of miles away. it's unclear who is in charge of things. the president's family? his son, his nephew is in charge of the military security services. the vice president has not been exercising the control that many would like to have seen him exercising. >> suarez: who is running yemen? >> it's the president's family who is still running yemen. the remnants of the regime are still within the military and the security services. those are the ones who are doing this. there's no incentive to
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compromise right now. that's the scary thing. >> suarez: no incentive to compromise. as we mentioned in the earlier report, there have been ongoing negotiations about a much talked-about handover of power. is that not real? >> i mean the plan that had been on the discussion, the gcc plan is for all purposes dead. >> suarez: cooperation council. >> the idea that the president would step down and there would be a transitional government. maybe that deal might have had legs six months ago. i don't think it does anymore. it will probably form the basis for whatever it is that comes next. but in its current arrangement, i can't see that being viable. >> suarez: hadn't there been recently encouragement from the e.u., from the united states, hoping to nudge the saleh family along in this very process that you say is now dead? >> i think they would like to. but i think none of the actors there interests aren't matching up with what we'd like to see. so we can figure out a way to
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reincentivize all the the partys to the conflict not just the regime but the other power-elites in the the country that are fighting until we figure out a way to reincentivize them to move towards non-violence, that won't happen. >> yemen is home to a very dangerous and well known branch of al qaeda. is a more unstable yemen something much to be feared and worried about here in the united states? >> absolutely. i think that's what's really stymied the policy process not just in washington but, you know, with the western allies and with the gulf states. the fact that not knowing what is going to come next and very likely greater instability worries a lot of people. it gives greater space for al qaeda to plan and plot operations. >> suarez: what about the oppositions? is it speaking with one voice? is there a unified opposition or has one of its big weaknesses been it's a bunch of different groups not one. >> exactly. it seems the only thing they really agreed upon was president saleh has to go. there's no agreement for what
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comes next. really there's probably several different layers to what is going on. you have a broad based popular movement that started this. you have the official opposition, the joint meeting parties. and the second level of competition. then you have this elite rivalry at the top. all three of these are going on at the same time. all three of them have very different interests in seeing how this works out. >> suarez: christopher boucek of the carnegie endowment, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, is the gray wolf a growing and threatening predator? or a pivotal player to the ecosystem of the western u.s.? that's a debate playing out with real consequences in montana where a new gun hunting season began this past week. newshour science correspondent miles o'brien reports. >> reporter: even on a good day running a cattle ranch is a mighty tough way to scratch out a living.
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when i meant rancher martin davis, he was not having a good day at all. >> looks like about half of our cows are down when they're not supposed to be. >> reporter: he runs the flying diamond ranch, a small operation with 130 head of cattle in montana's paradise valley. but there was trouble in paradise on this day. >> i think they're all gone. >> reporter: his cows were not where he left them in the summer pasture high in the mountains above his homestead. it was a mystery. but he had a prime suspect in mind from the get-go. (howling) among ranchers like martin davis, the wolf is always guilty until proven... well, soon to be guilty. >> wolves and life stock don't mix. you know, maybe they'll keep their nose clean for a short while. but sooner or later, the problem is going to occur. we've got to have those
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numbers down. >> reporter: martin davis will soon get his wish. this feared, beloved, misunderstood animal once protected as an endangered species will be in the gun sites of hunters in montana and idaho this fall. the davis spread sits 50 miles northwest of yellowstone national park where gray wolves returned 16 years ago after a 70-year hiatus. starting in the early 1900s were systematically poisoned, trapped and gunned into extinction in the lower 48. a good riddance for ranchers, an unconscienceable extermination for environmentalists. >> the frost bit my fingers today. >> reporter: doug smith is a life-long lover of wolves who presides over their reintroduction for yellowstone for the national park service. he's been here since the highly politicized media frenzy beginning in the mid '90s. >> is this ideal wolf country?
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>> this is. some people said before we reintroduced wolves to yellowstone this is the best wolf habitat in the world and had no wolves. >> reporter: the wolves are thriving here. they are after all at long last home. what began with 31 individuals imported from canada has blossomed into a population of more than 1700. only 150 of them live inside the park proper. >> i think the success of the program has been a little bit beyond what most people thought in 1995. that's a great thing. >> reporter: this attorney for the center for biological diversity. the great success he heralds is seen by ranchers as a clear present and persistent threat to their cattle herds. since the wolves returnd to yellowstone, they have been linked to more than 4500 cattle and sheep killings. using their political muscle, the ranchers got their members of congress to put a provision in the federal budget bill that took the wolves off the
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endangered species list. they had been listed since 1973. they claim the wolf population is now large enough to sustain hunting. that has paved the way for wolf hunts this fall. hunting season on the wolf is now open in montana and idaho. montana will grant licenses for hunters to kill 220 out of about 600 wolves. idaho has a thousand wolves and will allow hunting until the population drops to 150. that angers bill. >> they want to shoot hundreds of wolves through a private hunting scheme that would decimate the pack structure and really change the dynamics of the wolf's success. >> reporter: his organization is one of many suing to undo the unprecedented relaxation of the endangered species act by an act of congress. it might very well end up in the supreme court. but in the meantime, some ranchers here are trying to make a separate peace with the wolves.
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andrew anderson and hillary are trying a novel approach at the sprawling j-bar-l ranch in ontana's centennial valley, 40 miles from yellowstone. what's the ideal bull-to-cow ratio? >> one to 20. >> reporter: lucky guys, huh? they take a high mant tans approach to managing the herd. using electric fencing they force them to cluster together raising intensively for a week or so and then when the grass is depleted they stake out a new fence, move the herd on to the greener pasture. they believe it's a better way to manage the grass land. but they're also taking a cue from native buffalo which naturally herd tightly and thus are seldom attacked by wolves. it's a lot of work for you guys. >> it is. in most cases that we're doing this intensive grazing we have these cattle in a much smaller area and are moving the fence every day. it is a lot of work
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definitely. >> reporter: you haven't lost any cattle to wolves? >> that we know of, we've lost one calf in the last three seasons. and for the most part, we're at fairly high risk. >> reporter: and hillary has the bones to prove it. >> you can see this adult tooth is is starting to come in right there. >> reporter: why did this pack get shot. >> he was part of the horn mountain pack. they lived back here. they got a couple calves from the neighboring ranch. the state decided to take them out. >> reporter: the government has always authorized the killing of so-called problem wolves. more than 1500 have been killed since the wolves returned. yet the push for open season on the wolf persists. >> given the way the population has spread, is it healthy enough to allow a certain amount of hunting? >> the short answer is yes. wolves are tough to live with. they need tolerance from
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humans. wolves aren't going to get that unless problems can be solved. it appears there's not really hard studies on this. it's.... >> i've got two wolves. >> reporter: you heard right. doug smith, the wolf man of yellowstone, is okay with wolf hunting within limits. >> i'm only getting those two. >> reporter: in fact it turns out the gray wolf story is all about shades of gray. and limits. >> this habitat here is a lot more rich than the habitat over here. >> reporter: he took me to a place in yellowstone called crystal creek framed by lush thick its of willows and aspen trees, home to song birds, ducks and beaver dams. >> in the last ten years every bit of what you've seen here has come on. it has just become lux you're rant. there goes a young duck in the
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water. >> reporter: what does all this have to do with wolves? during the wolf-free years the elk population exploded here. they overbrowsed places like crystal creek and the willows and aspens could not get a foothold. with wolves hunting them again, one elk herd that's been tracked is down 60%. the trees are back. there is much more biodiversity as a result. all these ripple effects linked indirectly to the pop predator have a scientific term. trophic cascade. >> what truly is the impact of restoring the wolf and other large carnivores, pretty big, we think. we're still working it out. i'm not discarding the effects of climate and water availability for plants. that's important too. but you probably couldn't have this without that press tore. >> reporter: you wouldn't get this either. wolves have become a star attraction here at yellowstone. >> across the valley. >> reporter: wildlife film
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maker bob landis has helped make the wolves familiar to millions with breath taking images of the wolf packs of yellowstone. he knows many of the wolves by sight and introduced us to his friends. a pack of wolf watchers who are out at sunrise every morning to follow, film, or just fancy the wolves. >> look at the bush. they're right behind it. the wolves are up in the sage again. wow. look at that. they're black, huh? >> yeah, there's three black pups. two black adults. >> that's really cool to see them playing like that. >> reporter: the wolf is a creature that sparks an array of emotions as big as the montana sky. >> the wolves have this kind of iconic status. people love 'em or hate 'em. how do you explain that? >> i have no idea. i really don't. i don't understand this predator that kills where he does get that status as being this monarch of all predators.
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i really don't understand it. >> reporter: so what about the case of his wayward cows? it turns out the salt lick was depleted and the cows did not seem too agitated. what do you think happened? was it a wolf? >> i'm guessing probably not. they seem fairly laid back here today. i'm guessing they just decided to wander. >> reporter: the struggle between cowboys and wolves is a story as old as the wefl itself. they're dueling icons really. as they enter this next chapter, the real question is, how resilient will the predator be now that it is once again prey? (howling) >> ifill: finally tonight, college athletics and the money involved in big time sports comes under new fire. hari sreenivasan has the story, beginning with this background.
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>> reporter: college football served up a slew of big games over the weekend. but there was unexpected excitement off the field. syracuse university and the university of pittsburgh announced they're leaving the big east conference to join the atlantic coast conference, the a.c.c. and officials at texas and oklahoma held meetings today to discuss leaving their conference, the big 12. the moves are driven in part by efforts to cash in on television contracts worth billions of dollars. controlled entirely by conferences. with that kind of money at stake, there is new talk about whether the college sports governing body, the n.c.a.a., should allow college players to be paid. earlier this week the president of the ncaa defended the idea of amateur athletes on the pbs documentary series front line. >> we provide them with remarkable opportunities to get an education at the finest universities on earth. that's american universities and colleges. to gain access to the best coaches and the best trainers to develop their skills and
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abilities. so if they have the potential, that small proportion to go on and play in professional sports we're helping them develop those skills and they can go do it. if they choose not to go on or if they don't have the skills or abilities they get to go on in life and be successful as a young man or woman. >> now taylor branch has again raised pay-for-play in an explosive new article in the atlantic magazine called the shame of college sports. all of this at a time when new scandals have raised questions about the oversight of the big money sports: football and basketball. one high-profile case involves allegations that university of miami football players received gifts, cash, and even prostitutes. and cam newton, last year's heisman trophy winner at auburn was the subject of an investigation after his father received funds from a booster. in all at least ten major football programs have faced investigations or punishment in recent months. taylor branch is the author of the atlantic story which is on news stands now and will be
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released as he e-book later this week and he joins me now to talk about all this. thank you for being with us. first, help us to understand what you think the essential problem with big-time college sports is today. >> the essential problem is that we pretend that these adults are not entitled to a portion of the value that they earn. we pretend that the problem with all of these scandals is is that dirty athletes are getting money under the table. the problem we're not honest about it. nowhere else in america do we forbid adults from seeking a portion of the highly valued services that they provide. and nowhere else would we think of saying don't pay these people until i'm satisfied that it won't mess something up. >> as the ncaa president said they're getting an education, some to schools they may never have had access to. isn't that payment enough. >> they're generating billions of dollars on top of those scholarships. we are saying that they should be amateurs. we don't tell anybody else. amateurism, it's like religion
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or idealism. it's something that one professes. it's not something you impose on someone else. >> you don't buy the idea of amateurs or this phrase called the student athlete that the ncaa uses. you call them in your article hoaxes and legalistic confections. >> i discovered that from the founder and architect of the ncaa himself who said that they invented the term student athlete to help colleges and the ncaa defend again workers' compensation suits from athletes who broke their necks in college. the colleges say you were only... you won't working for the university. therefore you're not entitled to medical care compensation. you were just... it was just like you were throwing a frisbee on the college lawn. they have beaten down all of these lawsuits. so there's an underside to all of this behind all of the money. that started in the 1950s. >> you said in the beginning of the article when you approached this story that you would have also been somebody
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that said no the college athletes shouldn't be paid. right now after having done this research, do you think should be paid? >> yes, i do. i think one day we'll be amazeded at our presumption that pretended that the problem is dirty money to these people who are working hard at two careers at once. >> you very strong language in the piece. you said you didn't want to use slavery. you don't consider them slaves. you do say it resembles colonialism and has an unmistakable whiff of the plantation. how so? >> because we're pretending it's for their own good that we're denying them the right to earn a living from professions that we worked on and sweat and killed themselves on all the time. it looks pretty bad to me. i'm not saying that any college should pay these players. i'm just saying that it is artificial and wrong to prohibit them from paying them by a cartel. there's no law that does it. it's only custom and fiat.
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among many other things it does is it prevents us have having an honest conversation about whether professionalized sports and quality education are compatible. we're the only country in the world that has big money sports in institutions of higher learning. we don't have a debate about whether that injures education or sports because we're pretending the ncaa has the big sports media pretending that the problem is dirty athletes. >> how would a system like that even work? if i'm on a college football team and if i think that this guy or next to me is making more money or less money, does that destroy some of the camaraderie, some of the integrity of the game? >> how about... does it destroy the camaraderie here at the newshour? it's the same thing. it's the real world. it's also like the olympics. the olympics were amateur for a century and people thought even more than college sports that it would ruin them if they went professional. they went professional and no one even noticed. they scarcely noticed.
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the same thing could happen in college sports. i'm not saying that it would. i'm saying we are postponing all the questions behind a facade that exploits these athletes. >> now what we did try to reach out to the ncaa. the president of the ncaa wouldn't appear with you tonight. we're hoping to hear from a representative on this matter. in a recent op-ed in the usa today the ncaa does say or he says that academic standards they're trying to increase those and also trying to increase the opportunity for multi-year scholarships. do you think that the ncaa is making a good faith effort? >> i think they're doing actually, i'm glad you askd that. i do think they're making some effort on academic standards and the people i talked to at the ncaa about the academic side seem to be doing a pretty good job but on the amateurism side which is where the big money is, i think it's all smoke and mirrors. it's like the wizard of oz. >> you also mentioned a couple of lawsuits that are coming against the ncaa but could
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have significant ramifications. if people haven't been following this or the front line story briefly sum orize them. why could they be so game changing? >> because the ncaa is threatened on many fronts with practical threats beyond the ones i mentioned in principle. ex-students are suing the ncaa for making money off their old video games and college sports archives that they're selling and they're not... they don't give a portion of it to the athletes long after they've left college. congress is looking into the ncaa for not... for denying athletes due process and for antitrust. why don't they have a national college play-off? that's what a lot of this musical chairs and the conferences is about. the ncaa used to control all the tv revenue for football too. the football schools broke away. if these giant conferences can put on a national football play-off without the ncaa, which it would be without the ncaa, the ncaa's terrified that they could put on the basketball tournament too and take that from the ncaa which
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is 95% of its income. they get $771 million a year straight to the ncaa just for running this march madness basketball tournament. if the football schools took that, the ncaa would collapse into an impotent rule-making body. >> taylor branch, thanks so much for your time today. >> thank you. >> ifill: as hari mentioned, earlier, an n.c.a.a. representative was not available to appear with mr. branch tonight. but we expect to hear the organization's viewpoint tomorrow when we interview joseph crowley, a former university president and n.c.a.a. historian. >> again, the major developments of the day. president obama called for $1.5 trillion in new taxes as part of a ten-year plan to cut the deficit. republicans said it would hurt those who create jobs. greece held an emergency conference with its creditors, trying to calm global fears of a default. and troops in yemen fired on protesters again, raising the
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toll to 50 killed since sunday. and to kwame holman for what's on the newshour online. kwame? >> sreenivasan: find a photo essay from miles' reporting in montana on gray wolves. on this week's political checklist, political editor david chalian and gwen discuss the president's deficit plan and look ahead to the next g.o.p. presidential candidate debate. we look at a report that estimates the worldwide tab for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and others could reach $47 trillion over the next two decades. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at the push for the u.n. to recognize an independent palestinian state. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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chevron. we may have more in common than you think. and by bnsf railway. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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